I Made Tuna Aksara (I Made Illiterate) has a ‘headache’ as the National Examinations are getting closer. He is thinking about his son, I Gede Lengeh Buah (I Gede Very Stupid). His son is completely not a bright student, which matches his name. His position is always 50th from the 50 students in his class every semester.
Gede is a student of Senior High School. He is in the 12th year now. As a ‘standard’ of a senior high school student in Bali, Made goes to school by motor bike (a ‘Vario’), has a mobile phone, his hair style is like male Korean ‘telenovela’ stars. His look is very trendy, but his brain doesn’t match his looks.
“60 percent of the students didn’t pass the examination during the ‘try out’, let alone when they have National Examinations,” Made complains.
But nobody really pays attention to what Made says. They all have sons who go to Junior and Senior High School. Everyone has their own problem when dealing with their own sons, so they don’t really have time to talk about somebody else’s problem. They know that when their children are already teenagers, they will have ‘headache’ as their children would ask a lot of things, from reasonable to unreasonable.
Everyone pays more attention to the television they watch. The television shows a riot where university students fight against the police, followed by a fight among the members of Legislative Assembly. Some presenters give their comments — which makes the situation even worse. And the people just keep watching like they watch cock-fighting.
Some people say that it is difficult understanding who has to be blamed in the Century Bank case. In spite of funds that have been provided by the government, many of the bank customers did not get their money back. Everyone — the president, legislative assembly members, ministers and economists — talks and debates about who is guilty. Nothing is clear in this case. If you compare the case with the rules in the cockfighting (tajen) games, we can see the difference. In the ‘tajen’ everything is quite clear; who wins and who loses.
“My son Gede has just asked me for money again. He said it was to buy things he needs for the National Examinations. I thought he was going to buy some books. I was so surprised that he bought a mobile phone with facebook and chatting features instead. He used the rest of the money to buy copies of the test,” says Made.
“My son said that he would use the mobile to exchange answers through chatting during the test. They will do it also via facebook.”
“I was going to beat my son. I thought how guilty I was if my son passed the test by cheating. What if my neighbours knew about this? What would I say to them?
Fortunately I could control my temper. My son told me the reasons why he wanted do that.
“Father, you don’t have to be embarrassed about cheating on exams, or plagiarism. Everybody does that ― students, professor and even government officials. Teachers know we cheat during the national exams but they just don’t care. The most important thing for them that we all must pass the test,” Gede says.
“The teachers will feel embarrassed if many of us don’t pass; that’s why they allow us to cheat. If we all pass (no matter how), they will be very happy and they will claim that their teaching system has succeeded, and it’s all because of their dedication that their students can pass the test.”
“The indicator of ‘reputation’ of a school is that 100% of their students can pass the test. There is no place for honest students in the National Exams. The important thing is that how they can answer the test and pass.
“That’s why every school is trying to make their students ‘smart’. They give extra lessons to their students everyday, train them how to answer the test properly, and even give the answers of the test during the national exams” Gede continues.
“That’s why I just gave him some money to buy new mobile, pay for extra lessons and some sample tests from his teacher,” Made said sadly.
Taken from ‘Bungklang Bungkling’, ‘Jujur’, a column by Juniartha,
as published in Bali Post, Sunday, 28th February 2010. Translated by Putu Semiada